top of page

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk - Adele Faber - Book Summary

This is "the parenting bible", based on a series of workshops that were developed by the authors of the book, and presenting many examples of dialogs and cases of practicing this step-by-step guidance. Not all solutions will work with any child nor it will work all the time - match the solution to the child and situation, try multiple tools at a time, but know that this will improve in the long run.

Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings The way that children behave is directly linked to their feelings. Helping children deal with their feelings by accepting them and respecting them help them improve their behavior. Denying the feelings and minimizing them, on the other hand, can exacerbate problems and signal your kids they cannot trust themselves and make them push down their feelings.

In order to do this:

Listen quietly and attentively.

Acknowledge their feelings with a word (like “Oh..”, “Mmm..”, “I see” etc).

Give the feelings a name (“That sounds frustrating!”)

Give your child his wishes in fantasy (“I wish I could make the banana ripe for you right now!”)

Note that every feeling can be accepted, but not every action can be permitted (“I can see how angry you are at your brother. Tell him what you want with words, not fists.”)

To Engage a Child’s Cooperation

A child’s bad behavior is a problem, not a character flaw. Accusing, Name calling, threatening, lecturing, warning (“Be careful!”), comparing (“Why can’t you sit like your brother”), being a victim (You are killing me with your behavior), being sarcastic and making prophecies (“nothing good will ever come out of you”) make both the parent and child feel bad and hurt the child’s self esteem and the relationship, and are not very effective in mending behavior in the long run.

Instead, you can use the following skills:

Describe what you see: “There’s a wet towel on the bed.” This will help the child focus on the problem and try to fix it.

Give information: “The towel is getting my blanket wet.” So the child will learn and figure out for himself what should be done.

Say it with a word: “The towel”. Much more effective than a lecture.

Describe what you feel: “I don’t like sleeping in a wet bed!”. It’s OK to show your child how you feel

Write a note: “(above towel rack) Please put me back so I can dry. Your Towel”. It doesn’t get louder and children like to get notes.

Instead of Punishment Punishments are not effective. Instead, you can do the following:

Express your feelings strongly  - without attaching character: “I’m furious that my new saw was left outside to rust in the rain!”

State your expectations: “I expect my tools to be returned after they’ve been borrowed.”

Show your child how to make amends: “What this saw needs now is a little steel wool and a lot of elbow grease.

Offer a choice: “You can borrow my tools and return them or you can give up the privilege of using them. You decide.”

Take action: lock the toolbox.

Problem-solve: “What can we work out so that you can use my tools when you need them, and so that I’ll be sure they’re there when I need them?” Use the following steps: a. Talk about the child’s feelings and need. b. Talk about your feelings and needs. c. Brainstorm together to find a mutually agreeable solution. d. Write down all ideas—without evaluating.” e. Decide which suggestions you like, which you don’t like, and which you plan to follow through on.

To Encourage Autonomy

Let children make choices: “Are you in the mood for your gray pants or your red pants?”

Show respect for a child’s struggle: “A jar can be hard to open. Sometimes it helps if you tap the lid with a spoon.”

Don’t ask too many questions: “Glad to see you. Welcome home.”

Don’t rush to answer questions: “That’s an interesting question. What do you think?”

Encourage children to use sources outside the home: “Maybe the pet shop owner would have a suggestion.”

Don’t take away hope: “So you’re thinking of trying out for the play! That should be an experience.”

Praise and Self-Esteem Praise is good, but one should be aware of the impact it can have - too much may cause the child to feel “entitled”, or make him not value it anymore (“you are just saying that to make me feel better). The way to give praise:

Instead of Evaluating (“Good” . . . “Great!” . . . “Fantastic!”, etc)  - Describe:

1. Describe what you see: “I see a clean floor, a smooth bed, and books neatly lined up on the shelf.” 2. Describe what you feel: “It’s a pleasure to walk into this room!” 3. Sum up the child’s praiseworthy behavior with a word: “You sorted out your Legos, cars, and farm animals, and put them in separate boxes - That’s what I call organization!”

To Free Children from Playing Roles

When children are put into boxes, they feel that they have to act a certain role. This puts their own instinct and real feelings aside and they are compelled to act the way they believe they are expected to behave. This might prevent them from doing the right thing (so they can assume the role of “naughty”) or just put a burden on them and don’t let them be their real selves.

This should be approached using the following:

Look for opportunities to show a child a new picture of himself: “You’ve had that toy since you were three and it almost looks like new!”

Put children in situations where they can see themselves differently: “Sara, would you take the screwdriver and tighten the pulls on these drawers?”

Let Children overhear you say something positive about them: “He held his arm steady even though the shot hurt.”

Model the behavior you would like to see - “It’s hard to lose, but I’ll try to be a sport about it. Congratulations!”

Be a storehouse for your child’s special moments - “I remember the time you . . .”

When your child acts according to the old label - state your feelings and/or expectations - “I don’t like that. Despite your strong feelings, I expect sportsmanship from you.”

For more information check out their website.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page